NASA Small Satellite Promises Big Discoveries

Dr. Reyhan Baktur, a co-investigator from Utah State University, poses with a glass component of UF-Radsat’s solar array. (Credit: Utah State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Small satellites provide a cheap, responsive alternative to larger, more expensive satellites. As demand grows, engineers must adapt these “nanosatellites” to provide greater data returns. NASA, in collaboration with educational partners, targets 2021 for the launch of an innovative CubeSat that addresses these challenges.

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ATLAS Space Operations & NASA Partner to Advance Commercial Space Technology

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (ATLAS Space Operations PR) — ATLAS Space Operations, Inc. announced today that it has entered a collaborative partnership with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This partnership, as a part of the Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity (ACO), will work to support the development of advanced commercial space telecommunications capabilities, industry wide.

ATLAS is revolutionizing space-to-ground communications with their proprietary data management platform – ATLAS Freedom and a scalable satellite ground station technology, ATLAS LINKS Electronically Steered Array.

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NASA’s Asteroid-Bound Spacecraft to Slingshot Past Earth

This artist’s concept shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft passing by Earth.
(Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Regolith Explorer), will pass about 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers) above Earth just before 12:52 p.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 22. Using Earth as a slingshot, the spacecraft will receive an assist to complete its journey to the asteroid Bennu.

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NASA Tests Autopilot Sensors During Simulations

A model of a satellite aft end on a robot for simulated, controlled rendezvous at the Space Operations Simulation Center. (Credit: NASA)

DENVER (NASA PR) — Inside a large, black-walled facility outside Denver, NASA’s Satellite Servicing Projects Division (SSPD) team successfully completed the latest testing of three rendezvous and proximity operations sensors used for satellite servicing applicatons and beyond. These sensors are needed for autonomous rendezvous of spacecraft, which is a vital technology for robotically servicing a satellite.

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NASA’s Asteroid-Bound Spacecraft to Slingshot Past Earth

This artist’s concept shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft passing by Earth.
(Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Regolith Explorer), will pass about 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers) above Earth just before 12:52 p.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 22. Using Earth as a slingshot, the spacecraft will receive an assist to complete its journey to the asteroid Bennu.

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NASA’s Space Act Agreements with SpaceX, Boeing, ULA & Sierra Nevada


NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.

From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with SpaceX, Boeing, United Launch Alliance and Sierra Nevada Corporation. The four companies have been involved with NASA’s Commercial Crew and Commercial Resupply Services programs.

SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)
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New CubeSat Propulsion System Uses Water as Propellant

Purdue University graduate student Katherine Fowee and postdoctoral research associate Anthony Cofer work on a new micropropulsion system for miniature satellites called CubeSats. (Credit: Purdue University/Erin Easterling)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue University PR)  – A new type of micropropulsion system for miniature satellites called CubeSats uses an innovative design of tiny nozzles that release precise bursts of water vapor to maneuver the spacecraft.

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NASA Studies Tethered CubeSat Mission to Study Lunar Swirls

This artist’s drawing shows how two CubeSats, connected by a miles-long tether, would gather measurements on the moon. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A novel mission concept involving two CubeSats connected by a thin, miles-long tether could help scientists understand how the Moon got its mysterious “tattoos” — swirling patterns of light and dark found at more than 100 locations across the lunar surface.

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Science Payloads Set for Launch Aboard CRS-12 Mission

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., August 8, 2017 (CASIS PR) The SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle is poised to launch its 12th cargo resupply mission (CRS-12) to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than August 13th, 2017 from Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will carry more than 20 ISS National Laboratory payloads to conduct research across a variety of areas aimed at improving life on Earth, including research on Parkinson’s disease, new anti-bacterial compounds, new approaches to treating blood pressure, and pioneering new advances in the use of stem cells for repairing damage from disease, among many others. Thus far in 2017, the ISS National Lab has sponsored more than 100 separate experiments that have reached the station.

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NASA’s Hubble Sees Martian Moon Orbiting the Red Planet

The sharp eye of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured the tiny moon Phobos during its orbital trek around Mars. Because the moon is so small, it appears star-like in the Hubble pictures.

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Over the course of 22 minutes, Hubble took 13 separate exposures, allowing astronomers to create a time-lapse video showing the diminutive moon’s orbital path. The Hubble observations were intended to photograph Mars, and the moon’s cameo appearance was a bonus.

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Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is Waaay Too Modest

This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Jason Major using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major)

This Thing is Effin’ Awesome, Man! Thanks Juno!

JUPITER ORBIT (NASA PR) — Images of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot reveal a tangle of dark, veinous clouds weaving their way through a massive crimson oval. The JunoCam imager aboard NASA’s Juno mission snapped pics of the most iconic feature of the solar system’s largest planetary inhabitant during its Monday (July 10) flyby. The images of the Great Red Spot were downlinked from the spacecraft’s memory on Tuesday and placed on the mission’s JunoCam website Wednesday morning.

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Plants to Feed This — and Other — Worlds

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson harvests red romaine lettuce on the space station, the first fresh produce grown and eaten in space. The Veggie project, which is ongoing, uses Florikan’s controlled-release fertilizer to nourish the growing plants. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Astronaut ice cream may be an exotic treat for kids, but for real space explorers, a fresh, crunchy salad could sometimes really hit the spot. And the ability to grow food in space will prove crucial for longer-duration voyages envisioned over the next decades.

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Camera on NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Survived 2014 Meteoroid Hit

The first wild back-and-forth line records the moment on October 13, 2014 when the left Narrow Angle Camera’s radiator was struck by a meteoroid. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On Oct.13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a small natural object in space.

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Coming Soon: CubeSats with Frickin’ Laser Beams

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

Laser communications systems have become the next big thing in spacecraft design, promising improved communications. And now NASA is looking to put them on CubeSats.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking sources of compact laser transmitters that could be placed on one of these small satellites for a future technology demonstration space flight mission.

“Goddard is developing a CUBESat spacecraft with science mission payload for a multiple unit CUBESat spacecraft that will generate >1 Gbit/day science data at distances up to 0.5 Astronomical Units (AU). Reference 1 gives a notional CUBESat laser communications system concept,” the center said in the RFI.

“The purpose of this RFI is to solicit specific capability information from industry on master- oscillator power-amplifier (MOPA) laser communication transmitter technologies. This will be used for a cost, schedule and technical assessment to assist with preparing for a possible near-future NASA CUBESat spacecraft technology demonstration,” the RFI adds.

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U.S. National Lab Research Payloads Headed for ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR) The Orbital ATK Cygnus vehicle launched on its seventh cargo resupply mission (CRS-7) to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 18 aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V vehicle, carrying more than 40 ISS U.S. National Laboratory sponsored investigations.

The ISS U.S. National Laboratory is chartered to facilitate research in the microgravity environment that benefits life on Earth. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is leading the effort in partnership with NASA, industry, other government organizations, and academia to manage and promote the best use of the ISS National Lab.

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